Promoting the Dharma in Europe: A Pilgrimage and Pujas in Latvia and Hungary
From August 25th to September 3rd, 2017, instructed by his root guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led Glorious Jewel disciples to Latvia and Hungary to participate in pujas presided over by His Holiness and a pilgrimage. Upon the perfect and auspicious completion of the pujas, countless sentient beings had received Dharma benefits.
August 25, 2017
His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led twenty Glorious Jewel disciples to Riga, the capital of Latvia, one of the three small Baltic countries. Upon his arrival, several Drikung Kagyu lamas, anis, Exoteric Dharma masters, local believers, and disciples from Taiwan were waiting in the arrival lounge to welcome Rinpoche and reverently present khatas.
August 26, 2017
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples to the Sorig Meditation Center & Peace Stupa in Riga to participate in the Puja on Bodhicitta Teachings and Precepts presided over by His Holiness.
In the morning, Rinpoche led the disciples into the Peace Stupa to reverently present khatas and to perform rituals as offerings to Bodhisattva Maitreya and Dharma Protector Achi, both enshrined in the stupa. The Glorious Jewel disciples entered the stupa in an orderly manner to pay obeisance to the Buddha, and then Rinpoche led them in a chanting of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra and twenty-one circuits around the stupa.
Afterwards, Rinpoche bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon the disciples:
“You should all dedicate the merits from circling the stupa today to all the sentient beings in the Ten Directions of the Dharma Realm, as well as local sentient beings. In Taiwan you won’t find a location as good as that of this stupa. That the local residents were able to build a stupa here in such a beautiful place is not something to take for granted.
“When you were taking refuge, I taught you all that you should be respectful toward Buddha statues, the sutras, and stupas. You have all been allowed this opportunity today to circle the stupa, so you must do so with respect. The mantras you chant while circling the stupa are offerings to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the guru, and you should dedicate the merits to all sentient beings. Do not think that you are circling the stupa for yourselves; when practicing Buddhism, one does not merely cultivate oneself, but also benefits sentient beings. This is the true significance of practicing. All of the merits from circling the stupa today will be dedicated to the locals so that this place can become better and better.”
Rinpoche instructed the ordained disciples to lead the rest of the Glorious Jewel disciples in a recitation of the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land and the Bodhi Prayer. After that, the disciples were led over to the garden entrance to wait respectfully for His Holiness. Many local believers, with khatas in hand, formed a long line to joyfully await the master practitioner’s arrival.
When His Holiness’s car arrived, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche hastened forward to reverently welcome him and present a khata. His Holiness was overjoyed to see Rinpoche and, with his attendance, walked slowly toward the Buddhist center. Upon seeing the Glorious Jewel disciples who had accompanied their guru there, His Holiness cordially asked, “Did you all journey here from Taiwan?” The disciples respectfully replied that they had. Then, local believers reverently presented khatas to His Holiness, and made offerings to him by performing traditional dances.
When the puja began, His Holiness ascended the main Dharma throne. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s seat was slightly lower and positioned to His Holiness’s right, facing the attendees.
His Holiness bestowed teachings in English, and a local believer interpreted his words into Latvian. He spoke of the Drikung Kagyu’s pure lineage, a brief history of the Order and Lord Jigten Sumgön, and the significance of transmitting the Bodhicitta Precept. While performing the puja, he also talked about the importance of making offerings and methods of visualizing the Refuge Field and the yidam, and led the attendees in chanting the mantras of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Acalanatha, and Vajravarahi. Everyone present was delighted to receive these teachings.
In the afternoon, His Holiness again ascended the Dharma throne to explain the Seven-Branch Offerings as well as the process by which Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated bodhicitta, and transmitted the aspiration bodhicitta and the action Bodhicitta Precept. Afterward, He led the attendees in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a very long time.
Upon the perfect completion of the puja, His Holiness descended the Dharma throne and, with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reverently attending by his side, left the venue.
That evening, Rinpoche granted the Glorious Jewel disciples an opportunity to share a meal with him, during which he called on an ordained disciple to ask what insights he had gained during that day’s puja. The monastic reported, “Locally, there are no meritorious mentors regularly available to teach the Dharma. During his visits, His Holiness can merely bring them all together to chant mantras and help to form affinities with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; around here, there is no one like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche who can give disciples long-term instruction regarding causality, karmic retribution, and the Buddhist principle that all phenomena arise from conditions and are empty in nature. On th contrary, we, the Glorious Jewel disciples, are very lucky to have such a great, meritorious mentor as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to guide us; this is our good fortune. In Buddhism, without the teachings of a guru, it really is impossible to achieve attainment. I myself have been a monastic for going on thirty years, but I still must ask for teachings from such a great mentor as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.”
Just then, Rinpoche corrected him, “You do not simply ask for teachings.” The ordained disciple immediately corrected himself: “I must implore for teachings from a meritorious mentor.” He went on to say how difficult it was to come in contact with the Dharma, that this was his impression from that day: That the Glorious Jewel disciples were very fortunate to have Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s guidance.
Afterward, Rinpoche called upon another ordained disciple to report what insights he had gained. This monastic said that he really was extremely grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for not giving up on his disciples. Even though this disciple had been ordained for many years, he still had never been able to encounter a meritorious mentor. As a result, it was not easy at all to have the causal condition to receive the guru’s teachings. This was true in Taiwan, but even more the case in Latvia. Where could he go to encounter such a mentor? He felt that there might not be anyone else like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the whole wide world.
“Although Taiwan is purportedly a place in which Buddhism flourishes, how many there teach the genuine Dharma, and how many even teach people to use it in their daily lives? Those without the guidance of a meritorious mentor assume that Buddhism simply involves opening up a sutra and reading it, when in fact, if we do not implement the Dharma in our daily lives, then we will be completely separate from it and never able to renounce reincarnation. I feel that although I am following along at the guru’s side, to achieve the level of the guru is no easy feat, yet he still has not given up on any of us. Despite our having such low root capacity, the guru continues to help us one by one. How can we repay this sort of debt of gratitude within a lifetime, or two lifetimes, or really even through the course of many lifetimes? I am extremely grateful to our guru.”
Rinpoche said that this disciple had not gotten to the point; he had not mentioned what he had learned from participating in that day’s puja.
The disciple continued to report that although His Holiness had bestowed teachings during the puja held there, the local believers could not have their behavior constantly corrected by a guru the way the Glorious Jewel disciples could. He had gained a profound realization that after all he had learned in Buddhism, in the end, he must rely on his guru; there was no other way!
Rinpoche called upon a disciple who was a doctor, and asked that he share a story about Rinpoche and a local black cat.
He said, “Today, when Rinpoche and His Holiness were conversing in his room, a person in charge of interpreting during the puja told me that there used to be a dog around here whose responsibility was to guard and protect the entire grounds, but that it had been shot by hunters. Afterwards, a cat came here. It walked right inside the stupa, where it remained.
“This cat was extremely wild, and would not let anyone pet it. Whenever someone tried, it would attack or try to bite. However, at mealtime, when Rinpoche reached out to touch the cat, it acted very tame and let him do it. Upon seeing this, locals whispered that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche must possess great powers—super powers—for that cat to tamely allow him to touch it. They said that this cat was quite special, and would even go off by itself on patrol around the stupa grounds—however, it would never go beyond the boundaries.”
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple, “At the time, did I merely touch the cat?” The monastic said that after being touched by Rinpoche, the cat woke up. He also said that he himself had gone to touch the cat as well, but that the cat had ignored him; only when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had gone to touch it had the cat woken up and looked at the guru.
Rinpoche rebuked these two disciples for having been by their guru’s side yet failed to notice how he did things. He then resumed:
“Why am I always able to recall His Holiness’s affairs with crystal clarity? The problem with this doctor-disciple is that he only remembers things that he likes to. Does he not need to remember what his patients tell him? This disciple always pretends to be very tense; as such, how can he be qualified to be a doctor?
“I berated both those disciples who spoke nonsense, because I simply want you all to understand that sentient beings intuitively know what a practitioner’s level of cultivation is; I am neither bragging nor asking for anybody’s praise. The reason I asked the doctor-disciple to tell that story was that the locals all knew this cat was very wild, but when I went over to pet it, none of them stopped me.
“Do you think visiting someone else’s place is a lot of fun? Do you think you came here just to participate in the pujas? Do you think you came to be tourists? None of you lives mindfully. You think everything I do seems quite simple, which is why that doctor-disciple would not remember anything important; he thinks petting a cat is very simple. However, he did not say ‘pet;’ he said ‘touch.’ ‘Touch’ and ‘pet’ are two entirely different things. He stood right by my side and clearly saw that I petted that cat several times.
“The other ordained disciple is like that, too; he thinks he is cultivating compassion. Where is his compassion? We should have sympathy for that cat, because it has fallen into the Animal Realm! Do you think I only help humans? You should not labor under the misapprehension that your following me here was simply to attend the pujas presided over by His Holiness and me. Actually, everything that happened was to let you see how much your practice has led you to!
“Each of you is selfish and self-serving. You believe you are cultivating, but what are you cultivating? Are you cultivating yourselves? Do you all assume that your ability to live a good life stems from your own hard work? You think you are practicing the Bodhisattva Path. Practicing the Bodhisattva Path means liberating any sentient beings you see, no matter where you go. Why did I get up to pet that cat? I did it because I wanted to liberate that animal. Those two ordained disciples were by my side, yet they both completely failed to notice; they just thought it was fun. Even the locals noticed me petting that cat. This doctor-disciple has followed me for many years, yet he could not even remember such an important event as my liberating a sentient being from the Animal Realm. Only humans leave an impression in his memory.
“Do you know how many ghostly beings I have liberated today? I am busy every second of every minute. The reason that doctor-disciple was unable to recall this is that he looks down on this cat. His mind still contains the dregs of what he learned in the past from a non-Buddhist religion. The other ordained disciple is the same; he thinks cultivation means pontificating about big ideas, but actually it is about paying attention to ordinary little actions. Who can’t pontificate about big ideas?
“For now, let’s not talk about whether that cat is fierce or not. If a cat does not know you, it will not allow you to pet it. I do not have any superpowers; rather, I have attained bodhicitta. This doctor-disciple has been with me for more than a decade, almost twenty years, yet he has forgotten this, because he looks down on sentient beings of the Animal Realm.
“As I have said many times, a practitioner’s priority is to liberate beings of the Three Evil Realms, because they suffer more than we do. Having been reborn human, you are already in one of the Three Virtuous Realms, so can you really consider yourselves to be suffering? In the Human Realm, you have opportunities to practice, yet you have not grasped them. Do you think it is enough just to practice for a day or two? His Holiness has transmitted the Bodhicitta Precept today. On the surface, it may seem that he transmitted them to the locals, but he was actually reprimanding you. Never mind cultivating the Bodhisattva Path; you don’t even give it any thought!”
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche called on a believer who had had to hand in her Glorious Jewel disciple’s vest, and asked her how long it had been since she started asking the other Dharma brothers of her previous team to sign her consent papers. She reported that it had been one year and nine months. Rinpoche then instructed that if she had not finished getting all their signatures by September 10th, she would never be allowed back again. He said, “She looks down on Buddhism; it has taken her one year and nine months, and she still has not finished collecting signatures. Does she think life is all fun and games? None of you knows what the purpose of practicing the Dharma is. All you hope is to live a comfortable life. That you had the causal condition to come here today and have good food to eat and good things to use was not a result of any desire of mine to treat you well; rather, it was for you to thank sentient beings for the opportunities they give you.” Rinpoche continued, “If this believer, who used to be a disciple, still has not finished gathering signatures by the 10th of September, then her entire family should stop attending. I do not need them; she is perfectly capable of keeping her money to use in her later years.
“In the Age of Degenerate Dharma, you must not assume that you can practice Buddhism however you want. One small mishap could cause you problems. By now I have already relaxed the rules a bit; otherwise not a single one of you would be qualified to remain by my side.
“You people still don’t change, despite how well I have treated you. You all still feel that you are lucky, and that you are living the good life. From today’s incident it is apparent that this doctor-disciple is not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path at all; in his heart, he only cares for humans, and feels that beings of the Animal Realm should all perish. Even animals know to immediately become docile as soon as someone comes along who treats them well; you are difficult to tame and difficult to teach. Just as is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, the people of Earth are the most unruly; it makes special mention of humanity. You each rely on your own ideas when practicing. Do you think this is what Buddhism is all about?
“The reason His Holiness brought me here today was, first of all, to allow me to form affinities with Europeans, and furthermore, to give me an opportunity to reprimand you all.
“Life is over after just a few short decades. Practicing Buddhism does not mean you have to be very tense or serious, but practitioners must have a different mindset from most people. In Buddhism, we understand how to change our own future, and can learn how to gain control over our own lives. If you want to control your future lifetimes, then can you go about it casually? Can your notions flitter about this way and that?
“You must not assume that when I engage in ordinary conversation with you, I am not speaking the Dharma. This doctor-disciple thought I was just chatting with him; because he is a doctor, he thinks the Dharma means relieving people from their ailments. However, as a practitioner, I feel that every sentient being in the Six Realms is important, and I give special priority to liberating the ones that have fallen into the Animal Realm. From this it is obvious that the doctor-disciple has a discriminating mind.
“We practice the Dharma to amend our minds. You are being scolded today because you have all made offerings to me before; this is the only reason I admonish you. For example, I am very polite to all those lamas; I am full of smiles for them. You have never seen me wear such a great smile. This is because they are not my disciples, so it is enough for me to just form an affinity with them.
“Whenever you go anywhere, at any venue, you may examine yourselves at any time to determine whether or not you are actually practicing the Dharma. Even if you are not preparing to practice, you still can look in the mirror to see whether or not your behavior needs any adjustment; merely listening to the Dharma is useless if you never put it into action. If your situation could change for the better after merely listening, then I would be the first to say I don’t need to conduct retreats or practice so much. A guru can only teach you, and can only save you once; if, however, you do not amend your ways, then nothing can be done.
“It’s like how that believer who is gathering signatures for her consent papers has thought her life was pretty good. I waited a long time until today to reprimand her. She might have thought I had a poor memory, but despite my advanced years, my memory is still very good. She enjoys herself every day, and in this way she has even used up the good fortune that would have allowed her to practice Buddhism. It is not at all that I won’t permit you to enjoy life; however, at the same time, you should think about how to help more sentient beings. I am very compassionate; otherwise I would not have liberated so many sentient beings—but that does not mean I will be taken advantage of by you.
“Over the next few days, more pujas will be held. You should all inspect yourselves to see whether or not you have actually adjusted your attitudes. Do not think that you can come over and look at people’s deficiencies and then feel all high and mighty by comparison. If you say you have a good guru but you never change, then why do you want me here?
“However, since you are practicing Buddhism, you should change. Now that I have reprimanded you all today, you should take some time for introspection. Figure out whether, after listening to so much of the Dharma, you are actually adjusting your attitude, and not just constantly relying on my blessings. No matter how great are my blessings or how powerful are those of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, if you do not adjust your attitude, then you will still be just as selfish and careless as you are now; it is hopeless! Don’t assume that you can keep on living it up. You should know that time is passing by one day at a time, and very soon your time will be up.
“You should all understand that by no means is life all about working hard to make money and live in comfort. Rather, you must clear the debt from your past lives—whether owed to others, or what others owe you—and once you have cleared it all, you will be gone. How do you alter your future lifetimes? It depends on what you do in the present. Don’t be like that ordained disciple who said a little while ago that he would never be able to cultivate to my level. Of course you cannot, because none of you has changed. Even if you cannot achieve my level of attainment, you should at least adjust your mindset. Dharmas are all about the mind; if your mind changes, then the rest of you will change, too. If your mind does not change, then as that monastic said just now, no amount of chanting will work.
“Why would this monastic come to take refuge in me? He was ordained decades ago. I didn’t have any great temples, and he is very practical by nature; had there not been any benefits to coming over to me, he would not have done it. The benefits lie in the Dharma, but the Dharma is not mine alone; it belongs to everyone. Why are you unable to obtain the Dharma? It is because you are unwilling to accept it. You are still building a wall in front of yourselves that hinders your progress. If you still think you should wait until this or that has happened before you practice, then go ahead and wait! Many people are afraid to see me; they say they feel pressured—but nothing can be done about that; I achieved attainment as a lay practitioner, and it is very clear to me that if I do not force you, and this opportunity passes you by, then you will not have another one in your next lifetime.
“Some locals told me today about some circumstances they were in, and these make it apparent that as a Dharma teacher and disciple of the Buddha, if you do not promote the Dharma properly, then there will be adverse effects, which will bring a negative influence on many levels. Luckily, these local believers have a bit of good fortune, and still maintain their faith; they just feel that they should not be in this situation. Why did they tell me about it? It was because they could see that I am very strict; the dignified bearing with which I sit atop the Dharma throne frightens everyone, and who among the Western participants could ordinarily sit through a puja from beginning to end without getting up to go to the bathroom? They did it, though, because I sat on the Dharma throne without moving and, in addition, I wore a pair of sunglasses, so it was even harder for them to discern whom I had my eyes on. For this reason, no one dared to move.
“Today, while you were taking your seats, I had already quietly kicked some people out; there were three in total. One was standing in the back, hands stuck in his pants pockets and wearing a hoodie. I chanted just a little bit, and he took his hands out and took off his hoodie. Afterward, he was nowhere to be seen.
“Another one was leaning against the railing. I formed the thought that he should stand up straight, and strangely enough, he did. Another one would not clasp his palms during the puja along with everyone else. I thought silently, If you won’t clasp your palms together, then leave, and sure enough, he ended up leaving.
“Whenever I sit atop the Dharma throne, I am working hard. On the surface it may have appeared that I was being mean to those three, but in reality I was letting them know that they should be respectful toward the Dharma. At the time, they were at a distance of about one hundred meters from me, but I was still able to influence their thoughts. You are my disciples, yet I cannot influence you; one can only imagine how unruly you are. Therefore, I often mock myself as being a Rinpoche with particularly heavy karma to have taken on a pack of disciples who are like the people mentioned in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows: Difficult to tame, difficult to teach, obstinate and conceited, seldom doing good deeds and quick to forget. Everything written in the sutras is absolutely true.
“Today His Holiness transmitted the Bodhicitta Precept. There is not much chance that you will succeed in following it, but at the very least you should remind yourselves to. Whether or not you have taken refuge, once you have been transmitted it, it will not be of any use if you continue to be unwilling to eat vegetarian and take refuge. Furthermore, those who break the Bodhicitta Precept will have a very hard time practicing Buddhism for many lifetimes. Do not assume that it is no big deal if you break it; breaking it is tantamount to breaking what are known as the Samaya. Thus, through lifetime after lifetime, your affinity with the Dharma will be very faint, and you most certainly will not have any opportunities to achieve attainment.
“What does it mean to break the Bodhicitta Precept? It means refusing to listen to the Dharma, being unwilling to practice, and thinking that it is not yet time to act; secondly, it means not using the Dharmas you have learned to help sentient beings. That doctor-disciple fell into a trap today because he was not ready to help all sentient beings; only people. This was why he did not notice me helping that cat.
“In Buddhism, we talk about the mind. The mind is very subtle and difficult to fathom. You should not assume that my daily life is the same as yours; my every thought is for the sake of sentient beings and my guru, unlike you who stand next to your guru without even noticing what work he is doing. Apparently, there is no place for your guru in your hearts; he is just someone for you to take advantage of. If you want to use your guru, that is fine, but you must do actually what you have set out to do, and change, because causal conditions disappear in the blink of an eye. Why have I been able to follow His Holiness after taking refuge in him? It is because I have never allowed myself to grow lax. I am very strict with myself; I do not give myself any excuses whatsoever not to practice.
“If I were a monastic, I might not be as eloquent and convincing. However, I am a lay practitioner like you, yet nothing can stop me from practicing. In addition, I originally did not want to come, but His Holiness, who is getting on in years, told me that this might be his last trip here. Hearing these words, as his disciple I had no choice but to come. I actually have a huge pile of things back in Taiwan waiting for me to deal with; I traveled to Europe this time to fulfill my guru’s wish.
“You are probably thinking, Hey, it’s just a cat; it’s a wonder Rinpoche can tell so many stories, when all he did was pet it. Nevertheless, I am good at telling stories!
“There is one minor one that I originally was not going to mention, but because you have come here this trip as part of the puja group, I’ll talk a bit more. This morning, when I entered His Holiness’s room, I found him sitting on his bed. Next to him was a chair, and His Holiness invited me to have a seat, but I would not do so because that chair was higher than his seat was; I therefore sat on the floor instead. Had you been in my shoes, you would have been very pleased with yourselves and thought, Okay! His Holiness told me to have a seat. When I went in this afternoon, a lama also invited me to sit in a chair, but I told him ‘no thank you,’ because I must not sit higher than His Holiness.
“This morning, only the two of us were in the room, so when His Holiness told me to sit, what did it matter whether I did or not? He told me twice to sit in the chair, but I politely declined. This was a demonstration of the principle I uphold as a disciple. It is only because His Holiness transmitted the Dharma to me that I have since had opportunities to help so many sentient beings and take on this many disciples. Thus, His Holiness is a benefactor for all sentient beings, not just me.
“If it had been you in my stead, you would have gone ahead and taken a seat without further ado, thinking that His Holiness had told you to, after all, and had even said it twice. Sometimes His Holiness will joke with me, too. For example, in the car today, that doctor-disciple thought I was joking with him; otherwise he would not have failed to remember this matter. As it happens, the most important thing that happened today was me petting that cat, because in doing so I helped a sentient being of the Animal Realm—and yet you talk nonsense.
“You should not think that I act one way toward His Holiness when in front of you, and another way behind your backs. I do not show him respect as a result of my disciples being present, nor would I not need to be just as respectful when they’re not around. If I were even the slightest bit disrespectful toward His Holiness, he would neither scold me nor do anything else to me, but what is in one’s mind is very important; if it is off even one iota, then everything else will be off, too, and this can change one’s entire future.
“The reason I mention this today is not to get you to learn the respect I have for His Holiness, but rather to teach you that one’s respect for the Three Jewels must remain constant forever. However, yours is always changing. If I reprimand you today, then you change; if I fail to do something that pleases you, you change. If I say anything you choose not to accept, then you change again. Therefore, there will forever be distance between you and the Dharma.”
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s talk finished there. Afterward, the guru showed concern for the disciples by asking after their accommodation arrangements, and then left the venue. As he did so, the disciples all rose and paid reverent homage, incomparably grateful to their guru’s auspicious teachings.
That evening, two people with cancer, who had driven ten hours all the way from Estonia, came to seek an audience with H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; however, due to lacking sufficient causal conditions, they were unable to see him. The two believers therefore decided to stay in a hotel and try again the following day. This was an indication of how sincere the local believers were. It was truly difficult for them to have an opportunity to seek audience with a master practitioner. By contrast, the Glorious Jewel disciples are at Rinpoche’s side on a daily basis and able to participate in regular pujas every week, yet they do not cherish these opportunities!
【Mindful of Sentient Beings Every Second of Every Minute, Never Even Stopping to Rest】
August 27, 2017
Early in the morning, before he had even had breakfast, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tirelessly held audience for the two believers from Estonia.
These two believers both had cancer (one had rectal cancer, and the other breast cancer). His Holiness had instructed their teacher (a lama) at the Estonian retreat center to bring them to Latvia to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. One of them lived on a small island in Estonia, and had had to first take a boat ashore before driving to Latvia; the two of them had spent ten hours in a car to get there. Nevertheless, they felt great confidence in Rinpoche, and had been eager to seek an audience with him.
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately bestowed blessings upon them. The elderly patient with rectal cancer had undergone surgery to have it treated. Rinpoche said, “You are a meat-eater, so when you consume beef proteins, which are the ones cancer cells like the most, your condition worsens.” Rinpoche therefore urged him to eat vegetarian, and mentioned that doctors always tell patients how many years they are expected to survive after surgery. This elderly believer exclaimed that he was extremely scared, so the guru said, “Everyone dies; there is no need to be afraid of death.”
Next, Rinpoche said that about forty-five degrees to the right after walking out the door of this believer’s current residence were some trees. Very surprised, the believer confirmed that this was indeed the case; he had only just moved there, and the house was rather small. In front of it was a forest that did not belong to him. Rinpoche told him that this house had lost its qi and instructed the believer to plant a row of flowers in front of the forest as an offering to the deity it harbored. Once he had done so, the house would begin to regain its qi, and he would get better.
As for the other, younger believer with breast cancer, Rinpoche scanned her palm by placing his own palm a couple of inches over hers, and told her that there were cancer cells in only one of her breasts. Excitedly, she said that this was correct; only her right breast had cancer cells, and her left one did not. She had had surgery, and was currently receiving hormone therapy. Rinpoche went on to point out that her menstrual cycle was abnormal, and she said it was because of the hormone therapy she was undergoing.
She was absolutely amazed that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knew so much about her condition; his diagnosis had been faster than the doctors’. As with the other believer, Rinpoche instructed her to be sure to eat vegetarian. He also mentioned that she had a fifteen-year-old son, and that although this child was currently rather small and thin, she did not need to worry, because when he turned sixteen he would get bigger all of a sudden.
These two believers marveled deeply at Rinpoche’s great abilities, and felt that their long trip from Estonia had very much been worth it.
Later that morning, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took the Glorious Jewel disciples over to the Peace Stupa, in which he performed three pujas: The Protector Achi, the Vajrasattva, and the Dorje Phurba. While performing them, Rinpoche pointed in a certain direction and asked the local believers what was over there, and then said that in that location there were some hindrances. A local reported that there was a farm over there, and confirmed that killings had occurred there. By the time the rituals were finished, the guru had liberated many sentient beings and subdued the hindrances of the area.
While Rinpoche was performing the Dharma, the Dorje Phurba yidam manifested, and many times while chanting the mantra, he emitted an extremely deep and powerful reverberation, like thunder or a lion’s roar. His eyebrows stood up, his eyes protruded, and the corners of his mouth drew back, revealing an incomparably fierce expression—a Dharma appearance indicating that he was attuned to the Dorje Phurba yidam. Several European believers, upon witnessing these auspicious signs with their own eyes, were unconsciously moved to tears, and were full of admiration for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great, awe-inspiring power.
Continuing on from the previous day’s puja, His Holiness led the attendees in chanting the Acalanatha and Vajravarahi mantras, and taught how to practice compassion and bodhicitta.
Next, His Holiness instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to interpret the bodhicitta pith in the Dharma text from English into Chinese, and explain it to the attendees.
“Gurus must consider accepting us, just like how the Buddha once genuinely transformed all pure, auspicious blessings so that we could obtain them all. After receiving them, we can obtain good fortune from reincarnation, as well as the best Dharmas; we can gain unconditional truth and Emptiness. Our practice of the Dharma has no subject, has no object, has no ego, has no selfishness, or any other such phenomena. After learning it—the English word used in the Dharma text is ‘discrimination’—we should not discriminate against anything, and not differentiate between good and bad or high and low; in other words, we should practice without a discriminating mind. The next section includes the word ‘primordial;’ it seems that the English translation here is incorrect. Every sentient being possesses the same pure Dharma nature as the Buddha; after coming to understand this Emptiness, we should abide by the Buddha’s and our guru’s teachings. With them as a foundation, we can develop a boundless Bodhisattva Path—the Bodhisattva Path of benefiting sentient beings.”
After the ritual was performed, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche interpreted the second part:
“There was a paragraph in the Dharma text just now in which a word was translated into English as ‘Omni;’ in fact, the true nature of all sentient beings in the entire Dharma realm is one of purity; it neither arises nor ceases. It cannot be deliberately created; rather, it is a condition that we have always possessed. So what is the meaning behind our practicing the Dharma? It is that by immersing ourselves in the Dharma, we can reveal our natural, original nature. This happens not because our cultivation generates or eliminates anything; it just takes away some things that we do not need, and our natural, original nature can then be revealed. In the text, this English word ‘unborn’ is very difficult to explain; it means that our original nature was not born, but rather something that we inherently possess. Anything that is born can also cease to exist, so this original nature does neither; instead, it is a nature that exists naturally—it’s just that we ourselves are not aware that we possess it. Therefore, by way of the blessings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and our guru, we slowly become immersed in the Dharma, and only then can we realize that we intrinsically possess this pure nature.”
His Holiness instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to interpret the bodhicitta pith during the Latvian puja because its significance was exceedingly profound and far-reaching. Besides helping Rinpoche to form good affinities with the local sentient beings, this moreover showed the close relationship that existed between guru and disciple. It was a sign that His Holiness had personally transmitted the pure teachings of the Lineage to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who in turn was passing them on to the Glorious Jewel disciples.
Halfway through the puja, the black cat that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had tamed the previous day walked into the venue. After walking around the mandala as if on patrol, it directly approached the mandala and lay down in the seat right next to the local interpreter. A local believer stood, meaning to shoo the black cat away, but His Holiness instructed him not to disturb it, so the cat just stayed right there in the seat at the mandala for the remainder of the puja. It was quite apparent that animals, too, possess spirituality, and are bathed in Buddha Light.
At midday, His Holiness and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ate lunch together. Thanks to Rinpoche’s compassion, the Glorious Jewel disciples were fortunate enough to share a meal at the same table with the master practitioners and enjoy the musical dance performance local believers had prepared for His Holiness and Rinpoche. All of the disciples were full of gratitude and joy.
After lunch, the local believers brought forth cherry saplings they had specially prepared, and implored His Holiness and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to plant them in the stupa’s garden. They then beseeched Rinpoche to return when the cherry blossoms had bloomed to promote the Dharma once more.
During the afternoon puja, His Holiness again ascended the Dharma throne to transmit the Bodhicitta Precept to the attendees. Afterward, local believers respectfully presented a hand-embroidered thangka of Dharma Protector Achi to His Holiness, and received an illustrated volume of Buddhist stories bestowed by him. They also made offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche of presents and lily bulbs, hoping that he could take them back to Taiwan. Meanwhile, they also gave chocolates to all of the Taiwanese attendees.
Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees were all incomparably elated and full of Dharma joy.
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told the local believers that due to international quarantine laws, he could not bring the lily bulbs into Taiwan, so instead he himself planted them around the stupa as a symbol of the virtuous affinity that connected Latvia and Taiwan.
After a forty-minute break, some local believers performed a narrative play about the Venerable Milarepa as an offering to His Holiness. All of the props and costumes used in the play were exquisite and the performance was absolutely wonderful, and afterward all the actors and stage personnel reverently implored His Holiness and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to pose for a group photo with them. Next, to the sounds of cheerful music, everyone welcomed the two masters back into the stupa. After all the attendees walked around the inside of the building, they returned to the front of the stupa to have their photo taken with His Holiness and Rinpoche.
Before leaving the stupa’s garden, the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went out of his way to walk up to a cage in which two large wolfdogs were being kept, and chanted mantras and bestowed blessings upon them.
Khatas in hand, the attendees formed a long line. With voices full of joy and gratitude, they paid reverent homage as His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche left the stupa.
August 28, 2017
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche graced the Glorious Jewel disciples with his presence during the midday meal. Afterward, he asked one of the monastics, “What has your job been on this trip?” The ordained disciple replied, “I’m an attendant.” Rinpoche said, “You spoke like a lay practitioner. You have forgotten your place. This will cause other people to look down on Buddhism, so you would be better off leaving the monastic life and spending your days in the exact same fashion as a lay practitioner. I already reprimanded you last time, during the puja in Japan. Weren’t you taught how to conduct yourself in a dignified manner, back when you were transmitted the Three Precept Platforms? Besides, you only actually remember seven or eight lines of the Dharma I spoke of this time. Do you think the point of this trip was to come here and play? If it was just to have a good time, then you should have paid your own expenses.
“Anyone wearing Tathagata’s garb should not act this way. This means the life you live is different from that of lay practitioners. If you laugh and giggle like they do, the lay practitioners won’t know that there is anything wrong with it, but anyone observing the Three Precept Platforms should not exhibit this type of behavior. Anyone wearing Tathagata’s garb and eating Tathagata’s food should not act this way. If I did not make such rebukes, the monastics would be liable to do as they pleased. Do they really think that they can do whatever they want just because I am a lay guru? In everything they do, they should behave appropriately. Do you think that speaking cheerfully to the lay practitioners will cheer them up along with you? These monastics may appear to be ordained, but even I, as a Ngakpa guru, am constantly monitoring my actions every second of the day. Are these monastics doing the same? Or do they think that they only have to change their behavior if they get glared at by their guru? If they carry on this way, how will they ever be able to conduct retreats? Who will glare at them then?”
Rinpoche said that this was the last time he would warn this ordained disciple; if she continued to be so casual about the way she conducted herself, acting as sloppy, undisciplined, and flippant as a lay practitioner, then she might as well stop being a monastic. Before learning Tantra, maintaining a dignified bearing was a precept, so she had to discipline herself. “The monastic life has always been different from that of lay practitioners; in it you must enjoy solitude and loneliness, and not enjoy being part of a crowd. I don’t know where you learned this; do you think that playing cheerfully with a bunch of people will help them? How can it?” Finally, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately instructed the two ordained disciples to chant the Hundred-Syllable Mantra every evening.
【His Holiness’s Commendations of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Wholehearted Devotion and Support of the Order】
August 29, 2017
In the early hours of the morning, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche demonstrated his unfathomable powers of cultivation, performing the Phowa for a disciple who had just passed away in faraway Taiwan. Despite the intervening distance of 8,191 kilometers, the Phowa was a perfect success, and on the deceased’s body appeared multiple auspicious signs. For example, when the body was removed from the refrigeration unit in the morgue, frost had formed in his hair, but the deceased’s crown chakra was still unfrozen and warm to the touch. Even after twenty hours, no livor mortis formed, and the facial skin remained soft and supple. His mouth was closed, and he wore a rather peaceful expression, as if he were merely asleep.
At the time of taking refuge, this disciple had already been diagnosed with head and neck cancer (late-stage tongue cancer and lymphoma). He had been taking intensive injections of three times the normal dosage of morphine to reduce the severe pain, but from the day he took refuge, he miraculously stopped needing them and was able to go to sleep peacefully. Even the doctors were astounded!
That evening, His Holiness led Rinpoche and the Glorious Jewel disciples over to the Drikung Ngaden Choling Buddhist Center in Riga, Latvia, where he presided over a puja.
H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was seated at the mandala to the right of His Holiness. Even though the space was tight, Rinpoche sat in the narrow seat with legs crossed in the lotus position for the duration of the puja, exhibiting the utmost respect.
As soon as the puja began, His Holiness introduced and openly praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche:
“I would like to take a moment to introduce Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to you. Back when the first Drikung Buddhist center was being founded in Taiwan, he was a member of the board; later, he established his own Buddhist center, and now more than a thousand disciples participate in general pujas held there every week.
“Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has his own businesses, too, and has been vigorously subsidizing the Drikung Kagyu Order in Tibet and other places. For example, last year, he went to Sichuan in Mainland China to seek an audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang. There is a Drikung Kagyu monastery—Yangrige—that has not yet been built, and the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang informed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that he needed his assistance of one million renminbi. Rinpoche therefore immediately made an offering in this amount.
“In addition, there is a monastery of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s guru, Phagmodrupa, that had been abandoned and was completely empty, so about ten years ago Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started out by donating a two- or three-story tall, gold-plated Buddha statue to it. It was made in Chengdu, China, and has already been completed and placed inside the monastery, although it has yet to be consecrated.
“Actually, this monastery was one of the two seats from which the Drikung Kagyu’s lineage was transmitted. This was because after his guru Phagmodrupa left this world, Lord Jigten Sumgön once presided there for three years. Only after he had transmitted to the two hundred monastics the Phagmodrupa’s teachings there did he move his seat to Drikung Thil; these two monasteries were located, one above and one below, on the plateau. Not far from Phagmodrupa’s monastery, downstream along the Yellow River, is Gampopa’s primary monastery, and it is also in need of a Buddha statue similar to the two-story tall one Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche donated, so he is now supporting its being crafted in Lhasa.
“Thus, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does business and then uses all the money he makes in support of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Not only this, he also has visited Qinghai several times, and has given much assistance to monasteries, philosophy colleges, Drubpons, and so on. Furthermore, so far, he has already donated over a million US dollars in support of Sravasti Project.
“Every year in Taiwan, Rinpoche holds the Great Amitabha Puja for the deceased, and this has been going on for twelve years. Ten to twenty thousand people participate in each one, and he takes all the money from the puja participants’ offerings and donates it to a government institution to serve as a social relief fund. I have just listed but a few things in introduction of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.”
Next, His Holiness introduced the Drikung Kagyu Order, as well as the lineage of Dharma Protector Achi and Lord Jigten Sumgön.
During the dedication, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche blessed the grapes that had been offered by the local Buddhist center, and bestowed them upon the Glorious Jewel disciples. The guru’s every thought devoted to his disciples, he compassionately granted them the auspicious opportunity to enjoy offering items with the master practitioners. All of the disciples were sincerely grateful.
August 30, 2017
Today there was no daytime puja on the itinerary, but H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still did not have a moment to rest.
In the morning, several local believers made their way to the hotel in which H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was staying to seek audience. One of them, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine with two men, a little boy, and a little girl in tow, said that the little boy had epilepsy, and implored the guru to help him. Just when Rinpoche was blessing him, the little boy suddenly covered his mouth with his hands and emitted a giggling sound. The guru then asked them when his illness had first flared up, and they answered that it had been at around Christmastime the previous year. Hearing this, Rinpoche smiled and said that a little girl in their family had passed away when she was very young. They said that it had been their daughter, but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche glanced at them and said that she was not the one he was talking about; she had been of an elder generation, on the father’s side.
The two believers both indicated that they were not aware of the elder of whom Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche spoke, but later, after they got home and asked their family members, they learned that their grandmother’s twin baby sister had passed away when she was very young. When the little boy had gone home for the holidays, her consciousness had attached to him. Rinpoche said that the child did not have epilepsy, but that when he was little he had bumped the back of his head while skateboarding. Blood had stopped being able to flow into that part of his brain, which had caused his body to be half cold, half hot. This was why he often exhibited symptoms similar to epilepsy, but that was not actually what it was.
While blessing the little girl they had brought with them, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said her leg had been injured. She kept nodding her head, because serious damage had been done to her femur, causing it to ache. Hearing this, her father asked why he was not aware that she was in pain, and the little girl told him, “Because if I tell you it hurts, you don’t believe me; you only think my little brother feels pain.”
The doctor of Chinese medicine was then in great awe of Rinpoche’s magnificent powers. He also had gained a deeper understanding of these two children’s conditions, and now knew how to alleviate their pain. The guru bestowed teachings upon the doctor, causing him to gradually give rise to confidence and respect toward Buddhism.
In the evening, His Holiness led Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the Glorious Jewel disciples over to the Drikung Ngaden Choling Buddhist Center in Riga, Latvia to preside over a puja.
During the puja, His Holiness transmitted the lineage of the Great Drikung Phowa and performed a Dharma, and then led the attendees in practicing it together. Local believers offered the mandala to His Holiness and respectfully presented gifts.
Although this was H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s first visit to Latvia, in a short three days he had already benefited many of the locals. Everyone had given rise to great confidence in him, as well as respect for him, and earnestly supplicated Rinpoche to return to Latvia and propagate the Dharma another time. The guru said that he must follow the rules of Tibetan Buddhism, and could not simply do as he pleased. Though they might implore the Dharma from him, Rinpoche said, he first had to clear it with His Holiness, and could not accept their invitation until he had obtained his permission and blessings. Hearing this, the local believers immediately said that they would report to His Holiness, and that once His Holiness had granted his permission, they would definitely be submitting a formal invitation to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.
August 31, 2017
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the Glorious Jewel disciples to accompany His Holiness to Hungary. Prior to their setting out, the son-in-law of a local politician implored Rinpoche to autograph a copy of his auspicious work, Happiness and Suffering. The guru compassionately said that he would, and personally inscribed the book with a paragraph of teachings. 。
The family of the little boy that had come seeking audience the other day implored Rinpoche to liberate their grandmother’s long-deceased twin baby sister. The guru compassionately allowed them to write her name on the list of names of people to be liberated during the Chod, and instructed them to eat vegetarian—and that the longer they did so, the better.
The father reported to Rinpoche that his wife suffered from manic depression and mental illness. After compassionately blessing his wife, Rinpoche said that she actually was not ill; it was just that she had played on the computer and her cell phone too much, thereby wrecking the function of her cranial nerves. Furthermore, he pointed out, her qi and blood were not flowing properly through her kidney, so he also kindly alleviated her discomfort
The wife was extremely grateful to Rinpoche, and implored him to help a family member of hers with cancer. After entering samadhi, the guru told her that actually, her family member did not have cancer, and explained the cause of that person’s symptoms.
At any given time and place, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is constantly benefiting sentient beings. Whenever a good affinity exists, the master practitioner will always tirelessly, compassionately help them, and he has never stopped to rest.
When His Holiness and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche arrived at Budapest Airport in Hungary, Drikung Kagyu lamas and local believers reverently welcomed them and presented khatas and fresh flowers.
September 1, 2017
His Holiness led Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the Glorious Jewel disciples on a pilgrimage to the Peace Stupa in Zalaszántó, Hungary. The Glorious Jewel disciples were extremely grateful to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for allowing them the good fortune of being able to eat at the same table as the master practitioners.
After lunch, local lamas reported to His Holiness that cracks had developed in the stupa. Rinpoche immediately instructed a disciple who worked in the construction industry to take photos and make notes of the stupa’s condition, with plans to send expert craftsmen to the premises after spring the following year to take care of the stupa and to teach local craftsmen how to repair it.
Afterward, His Holiness, accompanied by Rinpoche and the Glorious Jewel disciples, made their way to the mani pile next to the stupa. His Holiness compassionately said that he wanted everyone to create a huge mandala there together. Under Rinpoche’s guidance, the disciples pooled their efforts to move the surrounding pebbles from the outside inward to form a large mandala; then, Rinpoche implored His Holiness to bless and place the highest pebble. His Holiness was extremely pleased, and instructed everyone to gather together in front of the mandala for a group photo. He then said that after creating this big new mandala, it would cause local hindrances to disappear, and everything would be perfect going forward.
Next, they made a circle around the stupa. Rinpoche attended by His Holiness’s side the entire time, conscientiously supporting him as he walked up the steep steps. He also instructed the disciples to light incense before the stupa in obeisance to the Buddha, and then follow His Holiness and Rinpoche in circling the stupa and chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra.
Their path took them along a small forest trail. It was quiet and cool, and His Holiness’s place of residence was among the trees. He compassionately permitted Rinpoche to bring the disciples inside to have a look. Later, His Holiness showed them the various fruit trees growing around the building, and said that they could all pick one green apple each; he even demonstrated how to do it. He invited them all to relax and enjoy, because the apples there were organically grown, without the use of pesticides. They were extremely delicious.
Afterward, His Holiness and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone to the Buddha shrine on the second floor. Rinpoche instructed the disciples to enter in groups, and make prostrations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thus, the pilgrimage to the Peace Stupa came to a perfect completion in an atmosphere of gratitude.
September 3, 2017
H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led twenty Glorious Jewel disciples onto a flight from Hungary back to Taiwan. Thanks to Rinpoche’s blessings, their journey went smoothly and without incident.
This trip saw Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche leading his disciples thousands of miles to faraway Europe to participate in pujas presided over by His Holiness. By way of what they saw and heard every day, the disciples learned firsthand how to implement the Dharma in their daily lives and amend their behavior. The auspicious teachings and compassionate blessings bestowed by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche brought countless Dharma benefits to all sentient beings in the Six Realms!
Updated on September 13, 2017